Understanding communication theory (memo)

Cragan, John F. and Donald C. Shields 1998. Understanding communication theory: the communicative forces for human action. Boston, etc.: Allyn and Bacon.

1. Introduction to Communication Theory
2. Information Systems Theory (IST)
3. Rational Argumentation Theory (RAT)
4. Symbolic Convergence Theory (SCT)
5. Uncertainly Reduction Theory (URT)
6. Narrative Paradigm Theory (NPT)
7. Diffusion of Innovations Theory (DIT)
8. Interpersonal and Small Group Communication Context Theories
9. Public Speaking and Organizational Communication Context Theories
10. Mass and Intercultural Communication Context Theories
11. Communication Microtheories
12. Capstone
During the twentieth century, theorists began concluding that symbolic facts exist just like material and social facts. George Herbert Mead (1938) left us with the notion of communication as symbolic interaction. Flew (1985), by including the symbolic realm, extended Berger and Luckman's (1966) notion about the social construction of reality. Bormann abandoned the social construction of reality and introduced the notion of the symbolic construction of reality (1980, 1985b). These and other theorists contributed procedures to ascertain the presence of symbolic facts. Symbolic facts are language representations that provide interpretations of the way things are. They may or may not possess a referent in social or material reality. Today, symbolic facts include such entities as worldview, ideologies, myths, interpretive frames, ideographs, perspectives, speech codes, and rhetorical visions. (Cragan & Shields 1998: 322)
  • Berger, C. R., & Calabrese, R. J. 1975. Some explorations in initial interaction and beyond: Toward a developmental theory of interpersonal communication. Human Communication Research 1(2): 90-112.
    This paper provides a theoretical perspective for dealing with the initial entry stage of interpersonal interaction. The seven axioms and 21 theorems presented suggest a set of research priorities for studying the development of interpersonal relationships. The paper concludes with a discussion of some of the problems to be considered if the theory is to be extended beyond the initial stages of interaction.
  • Griffith, B. C. 1989. Understanding science: Studies of communication and information. Communication Research 16: 600-614.
    A diverse group of researchers and scholars has achieved a better understanding of social and cognitive processes, general throughout science. The key elements proved to be communication and information. Communication is the only general scientific behavior; other behaviors are mostly specific and technical. Information and its representations are its principal and general artifacts. This article explores the development of theory and the discovery of some strong empirical relationships among measured communication and information that, in turn, capture important features of social process and cognitive change in science.
  • Flew, Anthony 1985. Thinking about social thinking: The philosophy of the social sciences. New York: Basil Blackwell.
    Rationalizing human behavior is our most compelling pastime. We are all disposed to offer and accept insufficient evidence and invalid arguments when these seem to support conclusions that we merely wish were true. We need to know how clearly about our social thinking and how to resist the allure of self-deception, everyone skeptical about or confused by the findings of the social sciences will appreciate Antony Flew's crisp analysis of the methodological flaws and systematic misunderstandings corrupting their content and application. Thinking About Social Thinking seeks to establish what can and cannot be learned from such studies, indicating where good work has been ignored, or much-needed work has yet to be done. Flew's clear and incisive arguments are illustrated with abundant examples and references -- many entertaining, others surprising. Flew issues a refreshing, impassioned warning against the perils of complacent, muddled thinking and false but comfortable conclusions.

A Philosophy of Solitude

Powys, John Cowper 1933. A Philosophy of Solitude. New York: Simon and Schuster.

It is a profound psychological truth that the words of a moral optimist are futile mockery to a neurotic pessimist. It is like telling a person who feels despair that if he makes the grimaces of happiness that he will be happy (Powys 1933: 2)
Like the popular sayings, "Turn that frown upside down" and "Smile and the world similes with you" - as if modifying the outward expression would somehow eliminatu the deep psychological troubles of the person. Such pretending will only serve to calm those around that "if you can't see it then it is not there".
No one who has lived for a decade in a large American city could rise to the pitch of Walt Whitman's splendid and flowering "yes!" to such a Pandemonium. Human nature would simply crack under the strain, under the vast hypocrisy - for it would be no less - of giving an assent to such a Malebolge. And moreover, we are so driven to the wall in a great modern city, and so deafened by the tumult, and so drunken upon shameless sex and deadly liquor, and so scoriated in our nerves by the gregarious confusion, that the only thing that can really help us is a much more definite and drastic philosophy than these eloquent writers supply; a real, hard, formidable, unrhetorical philosophy, that gets down to the granite rock-bed of the ultimate situation when it is stripped and stark and bare. (Powys 1933: 3-4)
For me this stark and bare granite rock-bed of the ultimate situation is materialistic and concerned with the embodied existence of concrete individuals with very little eloquont ideas but much bodily dread and very real expenditure of energy on everyday practices. That is, the ultimate situation is nonverbal.
It will be noticed that I begin with the Taoist thinkers; and there is a reason for this. Alone among all the heathen soothsayers who can help us to attain solitude in the midst of the crow these superior men are free from pride, from conceit, from vanity! (Powys 1933: 4-5)
These are good qualities for any deserving person, but somehow denigrated in our own modern society where pride (uhkus, concit (upsakus) and vanity (edevus, tühisus) run rampant.
Le tus therefore - even in the midst of our vulgar civilization - sink into our own souls and be alone with that Solitude that can create and destroy without the help of any violence. The power of the individual mind to create its own happiness, from the barest, starkest, simplest surrounding, is something that the early Christian mystics possessed. They had God to fall back upon; but we, if lacking God, have at least the cosmic elements, These great presences have a singular value for that psychic-sensuous contemplation which is the secret of lasting human happiness. When you concentrate upon these things it is as if you were aware of another Dimension through thinner walls than exist anywhere else in the Cosmos, and thus were able to tap some reservoir of unfathomable power, from which a mysterious life-magnetism can pour through your whole being. (Powys 1933: 6-7)
Seems like a step toward a guide to being happy in solitude.
The essence of the doctrine of Tao seems to be that it is through withdrawing ourselves rather than asserting ourselves, through retreating rather than advancing, through yielding rather than pursuing, through inaction rather than through action, through becoming quiet rather than through making a stir, that we attain wisdom and spiritual power.(Powys 1933: 11)
This sounds vaguely familiar, but via pesonal experiences with psychedelics, that it is much better to lie down and let the earth - as some sort of raft - to carry you and mold you, rather than to fight it and force it.
Laotze teaches that we should cultivate the art of reducing our self-asserion to the supremelimit. He insists that we should un-learn our superficial cleverness and not only cease competing with others, but flow with them and into them, through them, and lose our identitiy in their presence, deliberately become undistinguished, insignificant - but thus becoming the most magical of magicians! (Powys 1933: 11)
Knowing ourselves through others, gaining by letting go.
"If thou set thine heart upon philosophy, prepare straighway to be laughed at and mocked by many who will say, Behold he has suddenly come back to us a philosopher; or, How came you by that brow of scorn?"
There seems something peculiarly adapted to our case about the ideas of Epictetus, when, just as in his day, we are all so brow-beaten by officials, persecuted by petty tyrants, threatened by brute violence.
"But the tyrant will bind - what? The leg. He will take away - what? The head. What then can he not bind and not take away? The will. And hence that precept of the ancients - Know Thyself." (Powys 1933: 20-21)
You can be laughed at and mocked, beaten and even killed, but remember to be yorself - it is the one thing that cannot be taken away. The body can be beaten to submission, but the soul cannot.
- "What, then, if one come and find me alone and slay me? Fool! not thee, but thy wretched body. Thou art a little soul bearing up a corpse." (Powys 1933: 23)
Do noh be afraid of death or seek sociality for the sake of security - for you are not your body, but your soul (trapped in a dying body).
We need, just now, a certain fierce, bitter, indignant philosophy that is neither too easy-guing towards the gods for the sort of a world they have made, nor towards ourselves for the folly with which we make the bad worse. We need to put into our cosmic philosophy a little of the black bile that we put into our human relations We need a certain bone to bone austerity in our mental vision combined with a new emphasis upon the power of the will and the magic of the will. (Powys 1933: 25)
Wise words to live by. I think I should embellish my thesis with the same sort of black bile that I find in dystopian fiction.
Every human being is alone in the core of the mind. When we are born we cry; and that cry is the cry of loneliness.
Thus it is with children. Thus it is with the growing youth. And the older we grow the lonelier we grow. (Powys 1933: 37)
Ain't that the truth.
By the constant practice of this mental awareness our reaction to the world will come to rest, not on the shifting sands of human opinion but on the sublime and terrible truth of the ultimate situation. This situation is not changed because in the body we may be surrounded by other bodies, Our innermost self is indeed fatally involved with the personal peculiarities of our material flesh and our blood. Our lonely ego is always hemmed in by our own body, and very often by the intrusive and aggressive bodies around us. The life of our soul is cruelly dependent upon our bodily health, upon our idea of ourselves as irrevocably bound to our burdened and exhausted senses. But the fact that every conscious self possesses a central core, a unifying force, an integral identity, implies a constant renewal of our natal solitude; of our inherent isolation, from the security of which we gather ourselves together for our next outrush into sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch and the overpowering pressure of other personalities. (Powys 1933: 38)
E.g. the body is an endless source of trouble.
It is indeed so involved wih the body that its chief activity seems to be the unifying and focussing of the senses; and yet there come moments when this central power within us seems to withdraw into some mysterious and remote levels of its own being and we feel as if we approach the verge of the strange and startling possibilities.
This is a feeling only; but it is connected with a constant sensation that represents an unquestionable fact, the fact namely that we possess a centralizing, unifying self or ego, which is the driving-force of all we think, or do, or feel, or say.
And whatever may be happening to our body this self or ego, the conscious "I am I" within us, is absolutely alone. It is alone from the first moment of its awareness of life to its last moment on the treshold of what may be its final extinction. (Powys 1933: 39)
The self is within the body and absolutely alone - this is the ultimate situation.
The drifting, brainless gregariousness of so many human boings , imitating one another, conciliating one another, admiring, desiring, envying, competing, tormenting one another, is an attempt to escape from this inherent loneliness of the self. (Powys 1933: 39)
Apply cold water to the burned area.
Because the instinctive image-making tendency of old times regarded this "soul" as a spiritual replica of the body, and born to survive the body, we have grown hostile to the very word. Malicious folly! A if any word could be better to express all the secret experiences of the self; its resistance, its creative energies, its furtive withdrawal. (Powys 1933: 43)
It is because nothing internal to the body - other than bones - can survive. External - such as mans creation - does survive.
The person who makes it the main purpose of life to clarify, concentrate, crystallize his inmost self against the universe, can be immensely assisted in this task by the ideas of the early Greek philosophers, and the early Medieval Schoolmen.
It is St. Thomas Aquinas who says, "Creare proprium personae," which might be translated, "To create is the prerogative of personality."
St. Thomas is right; but such creation by personality is not done by accident. It is done by practice. It is done by focussing the mind upon the mind, the self upon the self, the life upon life. It is done by acquiring theh bait of doing it. It is done in the beginning by an act of faith and it is done last by repeated acts of the will. (Powys 1933: 46)
Autopoiesis through poesis.
Only those whose interior selves live habitually in loneliness, know - as the convalescent does - the tremulous approaches of human tenderness. This is one of the ultimate paradoxes.
The primeval simplicities of the dignity of life that each man, each woman grows aware of in the austere mystery of solitude are what purges the mind for the welcoming of the most delicate touches of human sympathy.
Only the lonely know the full vibration of a look, a touch, a word, let fall at the moment when most it is needed. (Powys 1933: 53)
It must always be remembered that the isolation of the self, in a deliberately lonely life, need not imply living in actual solitude.
What it does imply is the choice of a contemplative life over every other; but a contemplative life that can be lived under almost every conceivable condition.
A person can be a soldier, a school-master, a revolutionary agitator, a farmer, a factory-hand; a person can be any kind of working-woman. or domestic woman, and live in profound loneliness. (Powys 1933: 60)
To be possessed of a philosophy of its own, the lonely self must detach itself from all philosophical systems, both old and new, but it need not dogmatically reject any of these.
They will always remain there, these slowly-evelved accumulations of thought and feeling. They will always be at hand for the libeated ego to take what lends itself to its nature, from all these great intellectual and emotional deposits; henceforth, after this one clear act of detachment, it is no longer committed to any of them by the insidious hypnosis of custom. It is free. It is removed a certain distance from all and it is critical of all. (Powys 1933: 65)
Theorizing and tradition.
A man's philosophy, a woman's philosophy, is the conscious habit of thought by which the self gathers itself together, cleanses itself, governs itself, steers itself; and copes as well as it may with all the pleasant or unpleasant impacts of the vast impinging Not-self. (Powys 1933: 67)
#self #habit #theorizing
In spite of what Miguel Unamuno says, we can live happily without knowing whether there is a God; we can live worthily without knowing whether we survive death. Why torment ourselves any further then by going round and round in this tread-mill circle?
The better way is to find a substitute for God, a substitute for Immortality. For this refusal to waste our precious hours in kicking against the pricks does not mean that the satisfaction our fathers got from these things can be supplied in no other way. (Powys 1933: 74-75)
Not knowing; Purpose.
Intellectual people may be forced to give up their loneliness for the sake of love or of lust - that is altogether a different matter, and when you came to analyze it to the bottom both love and lust are profoundly lonely - but they will never give up their loneliness for the mere herd-pleasure of feeling warm and cheerful and friendly and spiteful.
Intellectual people are not rare. There are a great many of them. Most families contain at least one such. An intellectual person is a person who has the gonius to grasp the fact that it is a curious experience to be olive; so curious in fact that it is madness not to sacrifice everything to get the full taste of it!
A well-managed solitary life, whether surrounded by people or protected from people, is a very delicate and a very difficult work of art.
Routine plays a leading part. Men and women who do not insist on routine in their lives are sick or mad. Without routine all is lost. Just as without some kind of rhythm all is lost in poetry. For routine is man's art of copying the art of Nature. In Nature all is routine. The seasons follow ane another, the blossom and the fruit follow, and then comes the fall.
Routine is the rhythm of the universe. By routine the harvests are reaped, by routine the tides rise and ebb; by routine the Constellations march in their sublime order across the sky. The feel of routine is the feel of the mystery of creation. In the uttermost abysses of life it holds sway. Beautiful and tragic is its systole and diastole. Without routine there can be no happiness; for there can be no endurance, no expectation, no security, no peace, no old or new, no past or future, no memory and no hope.
But after routine has been attained the most important achievement in the art of a solitary life is having the right thoughts, that is to say having thoughts that give you a calm happiness, in place of thoughts that prick you and sting you and bite you and corrode you!
It is astonishing to think how long humanity has existed, and yet how little we have advanced in gaining control over our thoughts. To control your thoughts - that is the most important thing you can do; far more important than to control your children or your food or your drink or your wife or your husband or your business or your work or your reputation. He who can control his thoughts is at the key-position of the Cosmos. He has the clue, the secret password. Down into the depths of the sea he can dive and find pearls and coral and drowned gold. Over the grassy prairies he can follow the wind till he feels os if he were clutching the rim of the horizon with his crooked fingers. (Powys 1933: 77-79)
Intellectuality, routine, happiness.
A person's life-illusion is that secret dramatic way of regarding himself which makes him feel to himself a remarkable, singular, unusual, exciting individual. Everyone has a life-illusion; and it is something that goes much deeper than mere vanity or conceit.
A life-illusion is never wholly untrue. It is a vaporous eidolon of yourself that walks about with you wherever you go. It is a shadow. And becaue it is a shadow it has truth. But it is not a shadow of your objective self; - that dressed-up popinjay or scarecrow that your negihbours catch sight of before you open your mouth; - it is the shadow of your own subjective self; tho shadow of that etheric mask of the obysmal thing-in-itself, which has been created by your mind. The imost "I am I" is the thing-in-itself; and this creates the etheric self, whose shadow is the life-illusion. (Powys 1933: 80)
Life-illusion is a neat concept.
Women would not be the adepts they are both at flattering men's life-illusions and at stabbing them with bodkin-thrusts of a miraculous cruelty if they were not merciless critics of these subjective mas'uerades ... and heroic protectors too ... in deep and terrible intuition.
Strangers who visit some menage-a-deux all unexpectedly are often shocked at the way woman will tear to pieces, as if for their special enteriainment, every shred of dignity in her mate. Ah! you do not know the secrets of these people's hearts! She will deride and mock her man's real character to her heart's centent. He minds this no more than a pig minds scratching, or a trout minds tickling. But to his life-illusien oshe will preserve an inscrutable, mysterious, and hieratic reverence. (Powys 1933: 81-82)
The negative side of woman's intuition.
Every cult has its dominant clue-gesture; and the dominant clue-gesture of the "vita nuova" described here might be expressed in the term premeditated extacy; an erotic embrace of the not-self by the self. (Powys 1933: 86)
The TMS clue-gesture is a word, namely, "text."
These walls, or these half-open wndows, through which the yellow sun or the dark night appears, are the fringes, edges, margins of an unfathomable universe, or the brink of which we stand, while our soul grapples with the Unknown. (Powys 1933: 91)
Semiotics of windows could be an actual topic, dealing - besides glass windows - with computer screens and virtual application windows.
Men are such monsters to ment that no happiness is possible without a definite and premeditated forgetting of what they are always doing to one another. There is little danger that lonely, sensitive people become callous to such things. Even a great reformer, like Lord Shaftesbury, must have had to forget some things in order to live to do what he did for the torture victims of industrial greed; and the same apllies to those among us who follow his steps. (Powys 1933: 95)
#sensory_gating "forgetting #numbness
Nothing that any power can do can murder the senses, while a man lives, that he loses the distinction between self ond non-self. At the worst - in a great numbness, blankness, darkness, paralysis - he is aware of his body, the yot more objectively-remote non-self, and he is aware, if his plight be not unique in its desperation, of other minds, not so very far away, that resemble his own. (Powys 1933: 99)
It seems to me that the first thing such a person turns his mind to is to chance of his having acquired consciousness at all! How extraordinary, how never to be taken for granted, is the fact that in a universe - so full, as far as he knows, of so many inanimate things, and of so many things that, though animate, possess levels of consciousness apparently very different from his own - he should be saying so clearly to himself: - "Here am I, a living, conscious entity, in the midst of all this!"
Having realized the miracle of his being what he is - a conscious self in this bleak place - the next thing he does is to ponder on the inevitability of death.
He is alive now, he is conscious now; but in a given time, short or long as it may happen, he will be as unconscious as the woodwork of this melancholy window, the withered leaves blown across it, as the raindrops streaming down it. (Powys 1933: 96-97)
Sounds like he is describing a psychedelic trip.

A philosophy of solitude: John Cowper Powys: 9780904247183: Amazon.com: Books. Online. Accessed 7th Mar 2013. Available: http://www.amazon.com/philosophy-solitude-John-Cowper-Powys/dp/090424718X

John Cowper Powys (1872-1963) was born in Derbyshire, brought up in the West Country (the Somerset/Dorset border area was to have a lasting influence on him), went to Cambridge University and then became a teacher and lecturer mainly in the USA where he lived for about thirty years. On returning to the UK, after a short spell in Dorset, he settled in Wales in 1935 where he lived for the rest of his long life. Those are the bare bones of his life. In some senses they seem unimportant when set alongside his extraordinary writing career. Not only was output prodigious, it was like nothing else in English Literature. Indeed, George Steiner has made the bold claim that his works are 'the only novels produced by an English writer that can fairly be compared to the fictions of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky'. And even that doesn't touch on their multifarious strangeness. John Cowper Powys wrote compulsively: letters, diaries, short stories, fantasies, poetry, literary criticism, philosophy and, above all, novels poured out of him. He also wrote a remarkable autobiography. In addition to his Autobiography his masterpieces are considered to be Wolf Solent, Glastonbury Romance, Weymouth Sands and Porius. But his lesser, or less well-known, works shouldn't be overlooked, they spring from the same weird, mystical, brilliant and obsessive imagination. John Cowper Powys is a challenging author with an impressive list of admirers. In addition to George Steiner, these have included Robertson Davies, Margaret Drabble, Theodore Dreiser, Henry Miller, J. B. Priestley and Angus Wilson.

The Philosophy of Walking, by John Cowper Powys. Online. Accessed 7th Mar 2013. Available: http://willnixon.com/insights/the-philosophy-of-walking-by-john-cowper-powys

Nietzsche maintained the admirable opinion that all exciting and enlarging human thoughts come to their originator’s heads in the process of walking. Philosophy that is worthy of the name is a walking philosophy. Now there are many subtle reasons for this. In the first place the “humours” of the body, as Burton explains them in his “Anatomy of Melancholy,” are stirred up, shaken off, dissipated, dispersed by the movement of walking.
This is actually reasonable. Walking incites more energetic thought processes. A.R. paces to and fro when giving a lecture.
Fifty years ago the philosopher had to struggle all his life against the narrow fanaticism of puritans who sought to suppress every free gesture of the sex-instinct; but now, at least among that large portion of the crowd that has imbibed the new fashion of thinking, the whole situation is reversed and every reaction against sex that we feel is regarded as a hopeless intellectual limitation.
This may explain why the situation in the BNW was so different from Orwell and Bradbury - the thirties were apparently a time of sexual freedom.

Nietzsche – The Lonely One | Harper's Magazine. Online. Accessed 7th Mar 2013. Available: http://harpers.org/blog/2009/11/nietzsche-the-lonely-one/

Verhaßt ist mir das Folgen und das Führen.
Gehorchen? Nein! Und aber nein – Regieren!
Wer sich nicht schrecklich ist, macht niemand Schrecken:
Und nur wer Schrecken macht, kann andre führen.
Verhaßt ist mirs schon, selber mich zu führen!
Ich liebe es, gleich Wald- und Meerestieren,
mich für ein gutes Weilchen zu verlieren,
in holder Irrnis grüblerisch zu hocken,
von ferne her mich endlich heimzulocken,
mich selber zu mir selber – zu verführen.
I detest following, but also leading.
To obey? Never! And just as bad – to govern!
He who wishes not to be terrified, will summon no terror for others:
Yet only he who peddles fear can lead others.
I even detest having to lead myself!
Like the creatures of the forest and the sea, I love
To lose myself for a while
In meek error thoughtfully to cower
Drawn home at length by distant things
Being enticed by myself to my Self.
–Friedrich Nietzsche, Der Einsame (ca. 1882) in Gedichte und Sprüche p. 75 (1908) (S.H. transl.)
Hannah Arendt ends The Origins of Totalitarianism with an extended essay on loneliness and solitude. Why? “Loneliness, the common ground for terror, the essence of totalitarian government, and for ideology or logicality, the preparation of its executioners and victims, is closely connected with uprootedness and superfluousness which have been the curse of modern masses since the beginning of the industrial revolution and have become acute with the rise of imperialism at the end of the last century and the break-down of political institutions and social traditions in our own time.” The essence of the alienation associated with the “crisis of modernity” involves the outsider’s swing between being a lone wolf and dissolving into the masses generated by the totalitarian wannabes of all stripes. Arendt sees the philosophical roots of this dilemma in works of classical antiquity, from Cicero to Seneca, in the writings of Augustine, but most of all in a handful of poems by Friedrich Nietzsche. She cites his short work Sils Maria and the more complex poem Aus hohen Bergen which has quite striking references to Friedrich Hölderlin. But still more important for this point is the poem Der Einsame which puts loneliness or solitude on one hand and the feeling of “belonging” in a still more starkly political context.
This is a valuable clue to cennecting solitude and dystopian fiction.